Das Seelenbrechen continues Ihsahn’s exploratory ventures into extreme progressive music. Das Seelenbrechen roughly translates from German to “The Soul Breaking”; the record lyrically tosses hints at fragmentation and remains shrouded in mystery through its free-form nature.
“Hilber” morphs from grandness to agitation with a threatening yet introspective atmosphere. With horns and choral arrangements, “Regen” relies on a dramatic approach. The airy instrumentation of “NaCl” calls lighter, progressive music to mind. While “Pulse” is subdued, it carries a memorable, dark melody. The imbalanced percussion of “Tacit 2” meets the more coherent appeal of “Tacit.”
From a differing angle, “Rec” is a bit more suspenseful. On “M,” a soulful guitar solo appears through hazy instrumentation. The beginning of “Sub Alter” is ambiguous but builds in intensity. With an ultimate abstract quality, “See” searches for a disturbing end.
Das Seelenbrechen trades formulaic heaviness for inner-directed darkness and substitutes predictable composition for artistic breadth; the album should be deciphered as an experimental effort, which keeps listeners attentive and guessing. Extreme metal traditions are upheld with fiery guitar work and harsh vocals that nicely complement “Hilber.” Giving another perspective, the melancholic drone of “Pulse” and the bleakness of “Sub Alter,” allow the album to shine. Ihsahn seems to employ sporadic percussion to convey the concept of fracture, as implied on “Tacit 2.” The greatest value of Das Seelenbrechen, though, is the openness for one to interpret the songs however they choose.
*Thanks go to Heavy Metal Overload for voting for this artist.